Blog Tour: A Deadly Fortune by Stacie Murphy #HFVBT

A Deadly Fortune by Stacie Murphy

Publication Date: January 5, 2021 Pegasus Crime Genre: Historical Mystery     A historical mystery in the vein of The Alienist, in which a young woman in Gilded Age New York must use a special talent to unravel a deadly conspiracy. Amelia Matthew has done the all-but-impossible, especially for an orphan in Gilded Age New York City. Along with her foster brother Jonas, she has parleyed her modest psychic talent into a safe and comfortable life. But safety and comfort vanish when a head injury leaves Amelia with a dramatically-expanded gift. After she publicly channels an angry spirit, she finds herself imprisoned in the notorious insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island. As Jonas searches for a way to free her, Amelia struggles to control her disturbing new abilities and survive a place where cruelty and despair threaten her sanity. Andrew Cavanaugh is familiar with despair. In the wake of a devastating loss, he abandons a promising medical career—and his place in Philadelphia society—to devote himself to the study and treatment of mental disease. Miss Amelia Matthew is just another patient—until she channels a spirit in front of him and proves her gift is real. When a distraught mother comes to Andrew searching for her missing daughter—a daughter she believes is being hidden at the asylum—he turns to Amelia. Together, they uncover evidence of a deadly conspiracy, and then it’s no longer just Amelia’s sanity and freedom at stake. Amelia must master her gift and use it to catch a killer—or risk becoming the next victim.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

Advance Praise for A Deadly Fortune

“The 1893 world of the infamous lunatic asylum on Blackwell’s Island comes alive in frightening and horrific detail as a string of murders for profit is discovered when a young woman with a gift for contacting the dead becomes an accidental patient. She must fight for her life as well as her freedom in this engrossing mystery that reveals that all was not golden in Gilded Age New York.” —Rosemary Simpson, author of Death Brings a Shadow: A Gilded Age Mystery “This engrossing mystery, rich in period detail, probes the dark side of Gilded Age New York and the even darker side of life at the insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island. Plucky Amelia Matthew rises to the considerable challenges that surround her, uncovering increasingly dangerous secrets that point to the presence of a murderer in the asylum. Amelia has a special gift that both helps and complicates her search for the truth, making her a unique heroine. A Deadly Fortune builds to a satisfying conclusion that will whet the reader’s appetite for more of Amelia’s adventures!” —Clarissa Harwood, author of Impossible Saints and Bear No Malice “Stacie Murphy proves herself to be a masterful storyteller with A Deadly Fortune—an elegantly written, fast-paced mystery that blends the dark side of the Gilded Age, great characters, and a paranormal twist. Impossible to put down.” —Julie McElwain, author of the Kendra Donovan Mystery Series “Murphy serves up a dark side of the Gilded Age with intrigue, historical detail, and captivating characters. This is a mystery to savor!” —Dianne Freeman, award winning author of the Countess of Harleigh mysteries.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this debut novel, but I was blown away within a few pages!   This book is described as perfect for fans of The Alienist, a little bit paranormal and heavy on the mystery.  This is spot on!  I loved the setting of Gilded Age New York, I’ve always wanted to live in that time period.  Voluminous skirts, canes, top hats, high fashion!

This book centers around Amelia Matthews, a woman who suffers a traumatic brain injury that exacerbates her ‘powers’.  She is able to communicate with the dead and sometimes she can see the way a person will die.  Along with Amelia, we meet Dr. Andrew Cavanaugh, doctor who studies trauma and mental illness on Blackwell Island.  Amelia’s brother Jonas is also along for the ride!  I found Amelia and Jonas to be incredibly well developed characters with Andrew falling a little bit flat.  I really enjoyed them all, but the relationship between Amelia and Jonas was the standout for me. 

I loved the setting and found the asylum on Blackwell’s island to be very creepy, but in a good way!  This is definitely a paranormal book, perfect for the next spooky season, but also for the paranormal aficionado!   Great characters, spectacular mystery, and a well-told narrative make this a standout book for me!  The pacing was very good and well-balanced for a debut novel!  

Thank you to Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and Stacie Murphy for the opportunity to read and review this title!  So, so good!

About the Author

Stacie Murphy grew up near Nashville, TN. She began writing A Deadly Fortune in 2017 as a way to force herself to stay off Twitter in the evenings. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, daughter, and the worst cat in the world.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, January 11 Review at Coffee and Ink Review at 100 Pages a Day Tuesday, January 12 Excerpt at Probably at the Library Wednesday, January 13 Review at McCombs on Main Review at Gwendalyn’s Books Thursday, January 14 Feature at The Lit Bitch Friday, January 15 Review at A Darn Good Read Monday, January 18 Review at Novels Alive Tuesday, January 19 Review at Rajiv’s Reviews Wednesday, January 20 Guest Post at Novels Alive Thursday, January 21 Feature at What Is That Book About Friday, January 22 Review & Excerpt at Books & Benches Monday, January 25 Review at Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals Tuesday, January 26 Review at Bitch Bookshelf Wednesday, January 27 Review at A Chick Who Reads Thursday, January 28 Excerpt at Always With a Book Friday, January 29 Review at Amy’s Booket List Interview at Madwoman in the Attic Monday, February 1 Review at Book Bustle Tuesday, February 2 Review at Tangents and Tissues Wednesday, February 3 Feature at Reading is My Remedy Review & Excerpt at The Book Review Crew Friday, February 5 Review at Passages to the Past


Enter to win a copy of A Deadly Fortune by Stacie Murphy & a $50 Gift Card to Amazon or your favorite Indie store. Winner’s choice. The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on February 5th. You must be 18 or older to enter. Loxby Manor

Blog Tour: Araceli’s Path by Marion Surles – Book Trailer

Among Angels
and Devils in Juarez
Genre: Realistic Fiction / Border Stories / Mature Middle Grade
Date of Publication: November 30, 2019
Number of Pages: 145
Scroll down for the giveaway!
Araceli comes from a blended, dysfunctional family held together by the love of a grandmother. Rubí is being raised by a single mother who works as a prostitute. Both young girls are affected not only by their mothers’ choices but also by the violence and culture of Juarez, Mexico.
Can they overcome the cards they have been dealt, or are they destined to follow the same paths as their mothers?
Follow the lives of Araceli and Rubí from childhood to young adulthood and listen for children everywhere who are voiceless, trapped in their own cultures.
Proceeds benefit Love and Literacy

Marion Surles was born in 1957 in Columbus, Mississippi. From a young age she was interested in learning Spanish, due to a special offering of Spanish at her elementary school. She received a BA and MA in Spanish and social work from Mississippi State University and teaches Spanish and English as a Second Language to all levels of students. She also serves as a volunteer missionary at home and in many Spanish-speaking countries. Most recently, she has formed a mission in Juarez, Mexico called Love and Literacy, which encourages reading and staying in school. Every two months, Marion travels to Juarez to bring books and literacy activities to a poor neighborhood, partnering with a local family to serve as the library. Her books are a fictional account of the lives of her students. Her Facebook page, Love and Literacy, gives updates of her work in Juarez. Marion lives in Dublin, Texas with her husband, horses, and dogs. She enjoys trail riding, kayaking, and camping, plus visiting with her daughters and granddaughter nearby.
TWO WINNERS: Autographed copies of Araceli’s Path and Grit in Juarez (choice of English or Spanish), Day of the Dead shopping bag & plate, Mexican coin purse, Mexican candy.
NOVEMBER 5-15, 2020
Or, visit the blogs directly:


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Book Bustle



Hall Ways Blog



Reading by Moonlight



Chapter Break Book Blog


Top Ten

It’s Not All Gravy



StoreyBook Reviews


Guest Post

All the Ups and Downs



Forgotten Winds


Author Interview




The Clueless Gent



Missus Gonzo

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ARC Review: Queen of Volts by Amanda Foody

Queen of Volts

Author: Amanda Foody

Published: September 1, 2020

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Format: eBook

Source: Edelweiss+

Return to the City of Sin, where the final game is about to begin…and winning will demand the ultimate sacrifice.

Only days after a corrupt election and brutal street war, one last bloodthirsty game has begun. The players? The twenty-two most powerful, notorious people in New Reynes.

After realizing they have no choice but to play, Enne Scordata and Levi Glaisyer are desperate to forge new alliances and bargain for their safety. But while Levi offers false smiles and an even falser peace to the city’s politicians, Enne must face a world where her true Mizer identity has been revealed…and any misstep could turn deadly.

Meanwhile, a far more dangerous opponent has appeared on the board, one plucked right from the most gruesome legends of New Reynes. As the game takes its final, vicious turn, Levi and Enne must decide once and for all whether to be partners or enemies.

Because in a game for survival, there are only losers…

And monsters.

I went out of my way to read the preceding two books in the series because I’d heard marvelous things about them.  Of course, I was hooked from the first few pages of book one when Enne is trying to find her way through this incredibly seedy underworld place with casinos and dancers and so many other things.  In a world of talents and favors and debts and crime, it seemed like the perfect blend of magic, mobster gangs, and overthrown royalty to quench my thirst! 

I loved both books 1 and 2, so picking up Queen of Volts has honestly been satisfying.  This book came out last month and I’m just getting to writing a review, but I did enjoy this book.  The characters continue to develop, to learn about themselves, to see the future they can possibly make for themselves as well.  I really want to avoid spoilers, so this is more a plug for the entire series.

The high stakes world of New Reynes is incredibly interesting and captivating!  I’d say this is firmly upper YA, just due to the content – lots of gambling, drinking, drugs, maybe a splash of prostitution.  These things can be appropriate for younger YA audiences, but I felt like they belonged in the upper range for this series.

My only complaint with this book is that the plot has gotten so incredibly detailed and convoluted – there are three times as many characters as the first novel and I can’t keep them straight sometimes.  I still really liked it, it just became hard to remember what I was reading at some points or to track what stage of whoever’s plan it was and who they were double crossing to get to whatever end they wanted.  Also, the POV switching just kept happening and suddenly I had 6 or more different POVs to read, which made it even more difficult. 

Overall, I loved this book and I would recommend that fans of upper-YA literature with complicated worlds, magic systems, technology (because guns do exist here), crime, and a distinct 20s gangster meets Victorian morals vibe would really enjoy this book!  It’s out now, so get a copy! 

Thank you to Edelweiss+ and the publisher for sending me an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!


Blog Tour: The Paris Affair by Susanne Dunlap

The Paris Affair by Susanne Dunlap

Publication Date: September 30, 2020
Paperback & eBook; 244 pages

Series: Theresa Schurmann Mystery, Book 3
Genre: YA/Historical Fiction

Apparently, false rumors about Marie Antoinette are all the fashion in 1783.

Marie Antoinette is facing hostility from the populace, inflamed by rumors circulated in pamphlets throughout Paris. The rumors claim that she has dozens of lovers, drinks the blood of poor people, holds satanic masses at Versailles, and more, when nothing could be further from the truth. On the advice of the handsome, enigmatic Captain von Bauer, Joseph II–emperor of Austria and Marie Antoinette’s brother–decides that mystery-solving violinist Theresa Schurman is the ideal candidate for a spy to discover the source of these vile slanders.

Theresa is only too glad to get away from Vienna for a while, unwilling to commit herself yet to marrying Zoltan–a Hungarian baron she met when she was fifteen–and running out of reasons to postpone her decision. She is eager, too, to explore a new musical scene and broaden her artistic education. But when the captain confounds her expectations and places her as a bookkeeper in the establishment of Rose Bertin, milliner to the queen, she begins to lose hope that she will ever achieve her musical aims–or the emperor’s goal of exposing the pamphleteers.

A chance encounter with the Chevalier de Saint-Georges, an extraordinary black violinist and expert swordsman, sets Theresa on the path to unraveling the mystery. But will the chevalier’s patron, the powerful duc de Chartres, confound her efforts and put her–and the captain’s–lives in danger?

Be prepared for music, mystery, love, and murder in this riveting tale of pre-revolutionary Paris.

“The settings and situations are enchanting and varied; Dunlap is adept at on-the-fly description and at lacing intrigue with romance…Dunlap proves an arresting tour guide through this rich milieu, summoning up the past without slowing down the storytelling. Author and protagonist alike boast an epigrammatic wit. The touch is light, but the scenery and chatter are sumptuous…Theresa stands as a fascinating protagonist, a woman whose nimble navigation of society’s expectations and several burgeoning romances are exciting and inspiring, even more so than the sleuthing that drives the novel’s plot. The people she encounters are likewise memorable, complex, and surprising, especially the chevalier…This sparkling historical mystery conjures up the salons, fashion, and gossip of Marie Antoinette’s Paris, with a winning emphasis on the power of music and the roles that society allowed women.” – The BookLife Prize

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

Not being familiar with the Theresa Schurman books or author Susanne Dunlap, I was very excited to start reading The Pairs Affair!  The description said to get ready for a number of things, including music, mystery, love, and murder.  All are a collection of things that I absolutely love and I know that fans of YA historical fiction/mysteries will be all in on this novel! 

Theresa is a fascinating lady detective with charm, charisma, and an air of sophistication that enables her to walk through French society with ease!  She is complex, confident, and an amazing heroine.  I loved her relationships with the Captain, the Chevalier, and her charming friend Sophie.  The interwoven friendships, romantic interests, and business entanglements make for a captivating story.

I thoroughly enjoyed the backdrop of Paris, a few years before the revolution.  The reader experiences all levels of 18th century French society through Theresa’s eyes!  Readers will also note the beautiful descriptions of fabulous French landmarks and destinations.  This novel went very quickly for me, as I ate it up in one sitting!  As with many historical fiction/spy novels, this story does feature some action, but not so much that it detracts from the mystery at hand!

This has a beautiful cover and an engaging case of characters that many are sure to love!  I would recommend this to YA readers looking for something set in 18th century France!  Also, this is the third book in this series, but I had no trouble reading it as a standalone.  I felt I found Theresa’s voice very quickly and oriented myself easily.  Pick up a copy of this novel and Susanne Dunlap’s other works today!

A huge thank you to the author for sending me a copy of The Paris Affair!  Another huge thank you to Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for having me along for this tour! 

About the Author

Susanne Dunlap is the author of nine works of historical fiction. A graduate of Smith College with a PhD in Music History from Yale University, Susanne grew up in Buffalo, New York and has lived in London, Brooklyn and Northampton, MA. She now lives in Northampton with her long-time partner, Charles, has two grown daughters, three granddaughters, a grandson, a stepson and a stepdaughter, five step-grandsons and one step-granddaughter—that’s a total of four children and eleven grandchildren!

In her spare time she cycles in the beautiful Pioneer Valley.

For more information, please visit Susanne Dunlap’s website. You can follow author Susanne Dunlap on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Instagram, Pinterest, and BookBub.

Blog Tour Schedule

Wednesday, September 30
Excerpt at Coffee and Ink
Review at Little But Fierce Book Diary

Thursday, October 1
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Friday, October 2
Feature at I’m Into Books
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books

Monday, October 5
Review at Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals

Tuesday, October 6
Review at YA, It’s Lit

Wednesday, October 7
Review at Amy’s Booket List
Review at Books and Zebras

Thursday, October 8
Excerpt at Turn The Page

Friday, October 9
Review & Excerpt at Bookworlder

Sunday, October 11
Review at Bitch Bookshelf

Monday, October 12
Review at Nursebookie

Tuesday, October 13
Review at Rajiv’s Reviews

Wednesday, October 14
Review at Book Bustle

Thursday, October 15
Guest Post at Novels Alive
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Friday, October 16
Review at Passages to the Past
Guest Post at The Intrepid Reader


During the Blog Tour, one lucky reader will win signed copies of all 3 books in the Theresa Schurmann Mystery series! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on October 17th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

The Paris Affair

Blog Tour: A Golden Fury by Samantha Cohoe

A Golden Fury


Samantha Cohoe

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance, Historical Fiction

Publication: October 13, 2020

Age Group: YA

Set in eighteenth century England, Samantha Cohoe’s debut novel, A GOLDEN FURY (Wednesday Books; October 13, 2020), follows a young alchemist as she tries to save the people she loves from the curse of the Philosopher’s Stone. The streets of London and Oxford come to life as this historical fantasy unravels. Weaving together an alluring story of magic and danger, Samantha’s debut has her heroine making messy decisions as she toes the line between good and evil while it becomes blurred.

Thea Hope longs to be an alchemist out of the shadow of her famous mother. The two of them are close to creating the legendary Philosopher’s Stone—whose properties include immortality and can turn any metal into gold—but just when the promise of the Stone’s riches is in their grasp, Thea’s mother destroys the Stone in a sudden fit of violent madness.

While combing through her mother’s notes, Thea learns that there’s a curse on the Stone that causes anyone who tries to make it to lose their sanity. With the threat of the French Revolution looming, Thea is sent to Oxford for her safety, to live with the father who doesn’t know she exists.

But in Oxford, there are alchemists after the Stone who don’t believe Thea’s warning about the curse—instead, they’ll stop at nothing to steal Thea’s knowledge of how to create the Stone. But Thea can only run for so long, and soon she will have to choose: create the Stone and sacrifice her sanity, or let the people she loves die.

A GOLDEN FURY and the curse of the Philosopher’s Stone will haunt you long after the final page.


If you’d told me this was a debut before I began reading, I would say you were crazy!  A Golden Fury is a very strong debut novel from Samantha Cohoe.  This is a firmly upper-YA novel that carries the weight of it’s narrative and features superb writing!  Immediately, the reader is introduced to our main character, Thea.  It’s a bit trope-y, but Thea has worked in her famous mother’s shadow for a long time and is thrust into an odd situation after her mother suffers from a breakdown.  Thea is sent to her father, who, of course, has no idea he is her father, and many things ensue! 

While some new releases this year have very strongly relied on the YA tropes of old, I felt like this novel took a used trope and successfully built a narrative that I became wrapped up in, almost from the beginning.  Thea is incredibly well-written and well-developed, even in the first few pages, I found myself wanting to know everything about her and the strange art of alchemy!  She has quirks and nuances, which are revealed in ways that absolutely worked for me!  My only quibble with Thea is that she put a lot of faith and trust in people, which may not have always been the best idea in this story.  That’s a minor thing, though.  Truly, I enjoyed Thea.  I did notice in a few other reviews that others felt that some of the character traits weren’t quite suited to the narrative, but I think that may have been more of a deliberate action on the part of the author, given the time period.  As a fan of historical fiction, which this is loosely historical fiction, I really liked that! 

Certainly, the romance between Will and Thea is strained at times (that trust thing again), which became a bit grating at some point, but I don’t think it ultimately detracted from the narrative.  I felt that their romance kept the plot going, but wasn’t overly intrusive.  Being less of a romance fan, I also appreciated this fact.  The setting was incredible and Thea accomplishes much with the hand she is dealt through the story.  Being a longtime fan of spooky season and also a fan of anti-heroes, I felt this book was what I was looking for right now.  This isn’t a typical YA novel and certainly not a typical YA debut.  I enjoyed the gloomy setting, dire consequences, and potential failure that linger with the reader throughout the narrative. 

Once again, this was a book that was just right for me!  I would encourage any fans of historical fiction, YA fantasy, alchemy, or a non-traditional YA novel to read this!  This is also perfect for fans of other Wednesday imprint authors like Adrienne Young, Emma Lord, Allison Saft, Romina Garber, among others.

My thanks to Wednesday Books and NetGalley for a complimentary ARC in exchange for an honest review!  Thanks also to Wednesday Books and their amazing team for having me along on this blog tour!

Samantha Cohoe writes historically-inspired young adult fantasy. She was raised in San Luis Obispo, California, where she enjoyed an idyllic childhood of beach trips, omnivorous reading, and writing stories brimming with adverbs. She currently lives in Denver with her family and divides her time among teaching Latin, mothering, writing, reading, and deleting adverbs. A Golden Fury is her debut novel.

Author Interview: Dear Hero by Hope Bolinger and Alyssa Roat

Dear Hero

Authors: Hope Bolinger and Alyssa Roat

Published: September 28, 2020

Publisher: INtense Publications

Genre: YA/Contemporary/Romance


Up-and-coming teen superhero Cortex is on top of the world—at least, until his villain dumps him. If he’s going to save his reputation, he needs a new antagonist, and fast.

Meanwhile, the villainous Vortex has once again gotten a little overeager and taken out a hero prematurely. Will any young hero be able to keep up with her? Maybe she should work on finding a steady relationship with an enemy she won’t kill in the first round.

So the two turn to Meta-Match, a nemesis pairing site for heroes and villains, where they match right away. After throwing punches at each other behind coffee shops, practicing their fight choreography, and hiring henchmen to do their bidding (mostly just getting them coffee), they begin to realize they have a lot more in common than just names that annoyingly rhyme. 

But not everything in the superhero world is as it seems. Who are the real heroes and villains? And just how fine of a line is there between love and hate? When darkness from the past threatens them both, Cortex and V may need to work together to make it out alive. 


Tell us a little about Dear Hero:

Hope: Sure! So Dear Hero follows the story of a villain and a hero who match in a nemesis-pairing app. They fight behind coffee shops, but they don’t expect to fall in love. When a shadow organization haunts both of them and their pasts, they may have to team up to make it out alive.

Alyssa: What if being a hero or a villain was a career path like any other? What if it involved building your social media platform and fighting bigger and better nemeses for clout? At that point, what does it even mean to be a hero or a villain?

How did you come up with this idea? 

Hope: It’s difficult to pinpoint an exact moment. Alyssa and I had some parody YA twitter accounts where we made fun of YA and superhero cliches and tropes. My friend was also on a dating app at the time, and we saw quite a few superhero movies come out that year.

Alyssa: Everything clicked together, so we hopped on a Google doc and started writing.
Our original idea involved hero/villain pen pals, but we wanted it to be snappier, with more dialogue, so we modernized the concept. The idea of hero/villain Tinder was too funny to pass up. 

How was the writing process for this different than other books?

Hope: For one thing, it’s all chat format (a new popular form of an epistolary novel). Although Alyssa and I had a skeletal plot we were following, we never knew what the other person would write. Often characters or major plot points changed based on what they said. We did make sure to spot-check each other for plot consistency and copy editing. 

Alyssa: We wrote together in real time on a Google Doc. That meant hours and hours typing furiously. I don’t think I’ve ever spent that long at a time just writing, but when there’s someone on the other end and you’re having so much fun, writer’s block and the munchies fade away.

What was the hardest part about writing this?

Hope: Honestly, this was the most fun I ever had writing a book. The hardest thing was balancing work schedules. Alyssa and I wrote the first draft (emphasis on first draft) in nine days, but we had a three hour time difference between us and five jobs we worked collectively. This led to a lot of late nights writing. But honestly, I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. In fact, we did when we wrote the sequel LOL. 

Alyssa: Time, for sure! I kept forgetting things like meals.

Do you have a favorite character?

Hope: So my allegiance changed with the sequel (a guy who, if he materialized, may or may not become my future husband), but in Dear Hero I love Kevin. He’s a theater nerd slash frat boy who doesn’t know how to rein it in. He’s awkward, adorable, and ridiculous. 

Alyssa: V is my precious murder child. She’s deadly, she’s sassy, and she has a secret soft side that may or may not involve singing lullabies to her pet sharks. 

Any advice for other writers? 

Hope: I always feel like I could write a book for this question alone. My best advice is to trust the process. It will take a lot longer than you anticipate. Publishing involves a lot of stop and go, and a heck of a lot of hustle. 

Alyssa: Take every opportunity you can. You’re going to have to take on a lot of gigs you don’t like before you get to where you want to be (cough cough, my stint in journalism). And right when you’ve had it and you’re about the throw in the towel, that tends to be when you hit a breakthrough, if you just hang on.

Hope Bolinger is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. and a graduate of Taylor University’s professional writing program. More than 800 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer’s Digest to Keys for Kids to HOOKED to She writes about 250-300 articles a year. Her modern-day Daniel, “Blaze,” (Illuminate YA) released in 2019, and the sequel “Den” released in 2020. The final installment Vision releases in August 2021. 
Her superhero romance she co-wrote with Alyssa Roat releases from INtense Publications in September 2020. Sequel Dear Henchman set to release in April 2021. Her favorite way to procrastinate is by connecting with readers on Instagram and Twitter @hopebolinger. Find out more about her at 

Alyssa Roat studied professional writing at Taylor University. She is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E., the publicity manager at Mountain Brook Ink, and a freelance editor with Sherpa Editing Services. She has had 200+ bylines in publications ranging from The Christian Communicator to Keys for Kids. Find out more about her here and on social media @alyssawrote.

Review: A Curse of Gold by Annie Sullivan

A Curse of Gold is the sequel to Annie Sullivan’s A Touch of Gold.  I won’t spoil all of the plot of the first book, but King Midas is featured heavily in this duology and the action is seen through the point of view of his daughter, Kora.  I picked up A Touch of Gold before reading this and I really did enjoy it.  I can see why it is geared more toward the 13+ age group.  I have been a lifelong fan of YA novels and firmly believe that they can still be enjoyed at any age.  The one thing that pushed this one firmly into YA was the romance.  I liked it, but is was maybe too sweet. 

The relationships and characters were built up more from the first book, which I appreciated.  Although a few other reviews have mentioned that the pacing was not great, I found it to be great.  The action began from chapter one and it felt like it didn’t stop.  Kora not only went on a journey to save the kingdom, she also learned along the way how to rule.  Her father is in failing health and she understands that no matter the outcome of her journey, she will one day take up the mantle as leader of Lagonia. 

One of my favorite lines was about love:

…remembering that wise Queen Teragram wrote that there is no ocean that can separate love, for it is a feeling and not a location.

Quotes like this pop up often in the narrative and I think they really drive home the notion that Kora needs to learn from the past so she doesn’t repeat the mistakes of those that went before her.  Kora wants to make the world a better place and save her people, to do that she must learn from other kings and queens.

In both books, I enjoyed the story and the exploration of mythology!  There’s an oracle, islands were monsters live and of course some swashbuckling.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who likes mythology and firm YA novels.

A Curse of Gold is out on September 22nd!  Pre-order your copy now using the links below and follow the author on social media for book updates and more from the Curse of Gold duology!

I received a galley copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you to NetGalley and Blink for a copy of this book!


ARC Review: Fable by Adrienne Young


Author: Adrienne Young

Published: September 1, 2020

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Format: eBook

Source: NetGalley

Filled with all of the action, emotion, and lyrical writing that brought readers to Sky in the DeepNew York Times bestselling author Adrienne Young returns with Fable, the first book in this new captivating duology.

Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men.

As the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home seventeen-year-old Fable has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.

But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they’re going to stay alive. 

Fable takes you on a spectacular journey filled with romance, intrigue and adventure.

I’ve seen a couple of reviews that said this book is flat, and I get that.  It’s not a deep book.  The premise is simple and the plot isn’t crazy, but I really enjoyed this!  I’ve read a couple of books this summer that have had either rave reviews or incredibly low DNFs.  This is another one of those books.  Again, I really liked this.  It’s got pirates, ships, traders, a fight for survival, a daughter scorned, and a slow romance that doesn’t overtake the narrative.  Many YA novels out there are so focused on the romance that the rest of the plot falls very flat.  This was the opposite, incredible plot development with just enough romance.  Honestly, I didn’t realize it was happening until something romantic happened. 

Loved Fable as a character.  She learned from her past, became stronger, and ultimately pursues the thing for which she is destined.  Lots of female main characters wallow in pity at their plight, but Fable soldiers on and adapts.  The crew of the Marigold were fantastic people with which to go on an adventure.  West was probably my favorite character, though just edging ahead of Fable.  He was interesting, had enough secrets to keep me guessing, and in my head he is fine as hell.  Very good character development in this YA novel.

I was all in on this world.  The Unnamed Sea, the Narrows, Ceros, Dern, Javal….all such great place names!  I almost wanted more lore about Saint, his shipping operation, and the political structure of the world.  This is duology, so that may be forthcoming in the next book, Namesake.  I felt the world building, though a bit minimal, was very well done.  Not a lot of information dumps and the bits of information the reader learns are tactfully presented through the narrative.  It definitely helped that one of the rules was that everything is partly true or at least based on truth.  This made me interrogate the information I was learning, just like Fable did in the narrative! 

Overall, this is a solid seafaring YA adventure that I would recommend to fans of Adrienne Young (the author), Leigh Bardugo, V. E. Schwab, Sabaa Tahir, and others!  A great book and I am looking forward to the thrilling conclusion!  Thank you to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for the eARC!  I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


ARC Review: Kiki’s Delivery Service by Eiko Kadono, Translated by Emily Balistrieri

Kiki’s Delivery Service

Author: Eiko Kadono

Published: July 7, 2020

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Format: eBook

Source: NetGalley

Nostalgic fans of the Miyazaki film and newcomers alike–soar into the modern classic about a young witch and her clever cat that started it all! 

Half-witch Kiki never runsfrom a challenge. So when her thirteenth birthday arrives, she’s eager to follow a witch’s tradition: choose a new town to call home for one year.

Brimming with confidence, Kiki flies to the seaside village of Koriko and expects that her powers will easily bring happiness to the townspeople. But gaining the trust of the locals is trickier than she expected. With her faithful, wise-cracking black cat, Jiji, by her side, Kiki forges new friendships and builds her inner strength, ultimately realizing that magic can be found in even the most ordinary places.

Blending fantasy with the charm of everyday life, this enchanting new translation will inspire both new readers and dedicated fans.

Given that I am a Studio Ghibli fan, I was very excited to pick up this ARC!  I’ve seen several reviews that point out that this book is not the same as the movie.  I think it’s fitting to point this out, but it’s also a good point to say that this book doesn’t have to be the movie.  There is no need for the book to match the movie, particularly because this is the book that inspired the movie adaptation.  Originally published in 1985, this translation by Emily Balistrieri captures the heart of the original Japanese text. 

This is just the uplifting story that I wanted to read in the middle of quarantine and in a place where hope feels lost.  The message of this book is that while humans are annoying, there is good in all of us.  There is no ‘evil’ in this book, but there are mean-spirited people.  Fans of the Ghibli film will feel a level of nostalgia for this book, but will also find fun new story elements.  This is wholesome and perfect for YA readers!  It would also be fun to read this book as a family and watch the Ghibli film to see the differences and talk about the translation.  Great book, beautiful story, stellar translation, and a great read in a trying time!

Thank you to NetGalley for providing an ARC of this book and to the publisher for releasing it on NetGalley!  I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Starting with this review, I am doing something new! Each review (non blog tour review) will have a recipe based on the book included with it! Kiki’s Delivery Service takes place in Japan and Kiki lives near a bakery! It seemed only fitting to feature a recipe for Japanese Milk Bread! This is adapted from King Arthur Flour, click here to get the original recipe. Have you made Japanese Milk Bread before? How was it? Embarking on this new recipe? Leave a picture in the comments or send me an email! I’d love to see how your adventure turned out!

ARC Review: Twin Daggers by MarcyKate Connolly

Twin Daggers

Author: MarcyKate Connolly

Published: August 25, 2020

Publisher: Blink

Format: eBook

Source: NetGalley

Aissa’s life is a web of carefully constructed lies. She and her twin sister, Zandria, are Magi spies, magic users most believe to be extinct. And they’re on a mission for revenge. 

This action & adventure spy thriller–a fantasy spin on Romeo and Juliet from 
New York Times bestselling author MarcyKate Connolly–is perfect for fans of Marissa Meyer and Elly Blake and is about to become your new obsession!

By day, Aissa and Zandria play the role of normal young Technocrats eager to fulfill the duties of their new apprenticeships. By night, they plot their revenge to retake their city from the Technocrats. But then Aissa is given a new mission: find the heir to the Technocrat throne, who is rumored to be one of the Heartless, and kidnap her. Born without a working heart, the Heartless survive with a mechanical replacement.

Aissa is more likely to be caught than to be successful, but she’s never been one to turn down an assignment, even if the hunt is complicated by a kind Technocrat researcher who is determined to find a cure for the Heartless. But when Zandria is captured by the Technocrats, Aissa will do anything to get her sister back. Even if it means abandoning all other loyalties–and missions–and deciding whether or not it’s worth risking everything on getting help from her sworn enemies. 

There is so much that I want to say about this book, but I’m going to keep it short because it doesn’t actually matter.  Twin Daggers is a book that I requested because the synopsis seemed so promising.  Something like Renegades, futuristic like Bladerunner, soft magic system, spies, intrigue, romance reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet.  This was so promising and I wanted to believe in it so much.  Unfortunately, I was wildly disappointed.  This was mostly due to the fact that the synopsis overpromised what I read.  The narrative moved along so slowly and I felt the romance was flat. 

I had a lot of hope for this, but it wasn’t my thing.  I wanted to believe in this book, but I ultimately couldn’t.  This needed a few more developmental passes.  A few more critique partners and a good dose of plot accelerant.  That’s my hot take. 

I would still encourage you to try this book.  It wasn’t my thing, but it might be perfect for you.  Check out a copy from your local library.  Buy a copy for yourself.  Buy a copy for a friend.  It’s a beautiful cover, nonetheless.